Apparently, Seattle isn't all newspapers, universities, hospitals, and buses. Apparently, there's a place where the trees are allowed to grow and the trails get muddy. It's called... a park.
But wait! Not just any park. This is Discovery Park. It's over 500 acres of the former Fort Lawson, but you'd hardly know it. Aside from one small collection of buildings it feels like any suburban undeveloped park.
We were there to look for some letterboxes and kill time while Clara was at ballet rehearsal. We started at the North Parking Lot, conveniently located in the north end of the park near the Wolf Tree Nature Trail. The trail winds its way through a swampy forest with salmonberries and ferns.
Amy cheated and mentally followed the route on the paper map we picked up. We were able to shortcut the long route planned out by the letterbox planter and go directly to the letterbox. We followed the trail to the "reflecting ponds" that reflected little more than algae. Treen desperately wanted to get into the water, but since that would mean a nasty, smelly dog in the truck for the long drive home she got to stay dry.
The next letterbox was down by the shore so we first had to climb to the top of the bluff, then down down down. Part of the track was decommissioned paved roads, part decommissioned unpaved roads, and part honest-to-goodness trails. The final descent to the water's edge felt like it could be a trail in the wilderness... until you caught sight of the King County Wastewater Treatment Facility.
Don't get me wrong. It wasn't intruding on the experience until you were right on top of it. True, there are signs instructing you not to drink the water, but I usually carry my own water on short trips. Once we were down to the beach the experience shifted from being a walk in the woods to being a tour along the beach. (And we had forgotten about the wastewater treatment facility.)
We found another letterbox, though not exactly where we thought it was at first. I don't want to give it away, but if you go down that way keep in mind that just because a couple of logs look exactly like the clues describe doesn't mean that's where you have to look.
Unfortunately, we were short on time and had to think about how exactly we were going to get Clara. Hmm... Well, the car is way up there. The lighthouse, our original destination was still a half a mile away... in the other direction. Uh, I guess I like to climb so... I'm off! Needless to say, the dress shirt I was wearing wasn't exactly wicking and the day was surprisingly warm. That shirt is now headed to the cleaners. BUT, I got back to the car and down to the lighthouse as Amy and the kids arrived.
WARNING: There is no place to park (legally) at the lighthouse.
Still, it provides an amazing viewpoint as you might expect for a lighthouse. It's being refurbished so it's not quite pristine, but really cool. We found our last letterbox as the light was fading and hurried to get back to pick up Clara at PNB.
Overall, I was really impressed with Discovery Park. It's not going to supplant a real wilderness hike, but if you're in the city with a couple of hours to spend being active it is worth exploring.